In February, a one-of-its-kind literary festival will bring together regional language authors on one platform, to give vernacular writings the same recognition as Indian English literature.
Gateway Litfest, to be held at the National Centre for the Performing Arts on February 14 and 15, is an initiative by Mohan Kakanadan, editor of Mumbai-based Malayalam literary magazine, Kaakka.
“In its inaugural edition, the fest will focus on seven languages — Marathi, Malayalam, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil and Oriya. While Indian authors writing in English, and even in Hindi, have several popular national platforms, there is none for vernacular authors even as their contribution to Indian literature is immense,” said Kakanadan.
Around 50 authors, many of them recipients of national awards, will come together to discuss various issues concerning regional literature.
The list includes Oriya author and recipient of Jnanpith and Moortidevi awards, Pratibha Ray; Bengali poet and winner of Sahitya Akademi 2013 award Subodh Sarcar; Malayalee filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan; Marathi writer Laxman Gaikwad, author Ravi Subramanian, and Marathi storywriter-playwright and Sahitya Akademi awardee Jayant Pawar. “Today, there are some state-level events for vernacular literature, but no fest brings together multiple languages,” said Pawar.
Besides sessions on translations of regional language, the emerging trends in travelogue writing, script and politics and blog poetry, there will be deliberations on queer literature, and freedom of expression in the wake of the recent terror attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo and the silencing of Tamil writer Perumal Murugan.
Tamil filmmaker and author Leena Manimekalai, who brought out a controversial poetry collection on lesbian love – a first in Tamil – said such a fest was needed. “Beyond a few gatherings by Sahitya Akademi, there is no way regional authors can interact with each other,” she said.